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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

LIFE   OF
CHAPTER VII.
THE unfortunate year 1806 had placed Prussia in a
most critical position. Its existence even for some
time seemed endangered., and at all events there
needed, to secure it, or to repair the past and prepare
for a better future, a fundamental renovation of what
had been saved. In the youthful history of HLim-
boldt's life we mentioned the period of political and
social demoralization which had succeeded the reign
of the great Frederic. With Frederic William III.,
a better man came to the head of affairs, but this good
prince, still surrounded by tools of the former reign,
was not able to avoid the catastrophe the times
threatened; and as it seemed to threaten under every
' circumstance, he anxiously sought to avoid every col-
lision, and at every occasion for battle was led only by
*his peaceful tendencies, which at last produced the
; greater misfortune. But this misfortune effected
good,, for the heart of the people was good, and the
prince noble* To produce this good, however, the
whole former political tendencies had to be changed,,
the people strengthened by greater freedom, and the
general character elevated.
The king., with these views, appointed an " imme-
diate commission" in Memel, which was to provide
means for the moment, and prepare the changes for
the future. It was divided into two sections., one for
the war department, the other for the interior. This
commission laid the foundation for the new order of
things, and, with lasting peace3 needed only a power-